Justyna Zubko-Valva appeared Monday in Suffolk County Family Court in Central Islip, where CPS sought to clarify supervision of her sons, Anthony and Andrew. Credit: Newsday / Cecilia Dowd; Kendall Rodriguez; Photo Credit: Justyna Zubko-Valva

The two brothers of Thomas Valva, the 8-year-old boy allegedly killed by his NYPD officer father and the man's fiancee, are doing well living with their mother and have returned to school, an attorney for Suffolk County's Child Protective Services said in court Monday. 

Gary Rosenthal, an attorney for CPS, said its case workers had twice in the last 10 days been to the Valley Stream home of the boys' mother Justyna Zubko-Valva — who didn't have custody of them at the time of Thomas' death — and found "an abundance of food" and the boys appeared "happy." 

"The boys are doing fantastic — under the circumstances — with mom," Rosenthal told a Suffolk County Family Court judge. 

Thomas’ death has generated deep sadness and outrage across Long Island, with a flurry of memorials held in remembrance of the third-grader as well as proposed reforms to a system that some say failed Thomas.

More than a dozen supporters of Zubko-Valva accompanied her to court Monday, some wearing pins bearing Thomas’ image and blue ribbons, a symbol of child abuse prevention.

The report on Anthony, 10, and Andrew, 6 — placed in the temporary custody of their mother five days after their brother's Jan. 17 death from hypothermia — came during a courtroom conference as CPS sought clarification from a judge on how often its case workers should see the boys. 

Michael Valva, 40, and Angela Pollina, 42, have pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder and four counts each of endangering the welfare of a child in connection with Thomas' death. Thomas and his brothers, along with Pollina's three daughters, lived with Valva and Pollina at their Center Moriches home before Thomas died. 

Family and friends remember Thomas Valva, the 8-year-old whose death has impacted many people across Long Island. Credit: Newsday Staff; James Carbone; Justyna Zubko-Valva

Prosecutors, at their arraignment on an indictment last week, accused Valva and Pollina of committing horrifying acts of child abuse, including beating and starving Thomas and Anthony — both on the autism spectrum — and forcing them to sleep in an unheated garage in the wintertime as punishment. 

Thomas' death followed a night in which authorities say he was made to sleep in the garage as temperatures outside fell to 19-degrees. 

During Monday's Family Court appearance, Zubko-Valva, the boy's mother, said CPS's bid to clarify its supervision of Anthony and Andrew was an "act of retaliation" against her. She blamed CPS workers for Thomas' death, saying they didn't properly investigate earlier allegations of abuse of the boys filed by teachers at the boys' former school in East Moriches. 

"CPS is just looking for another way to have supervision over my kids ...to try to falsely accuse me," Zubko-Valva told the judge, who ultimately ruled there was no need to increase CPS monitoring.

Rosenthal said CPS was merely looking for guidance on whether its caseworkers should be visiting Anthony and Andrew more than the mandated two times monthly. He added that CPS had not yet been able to arrange a physical for the two boys and had not been able to see the children when it paid unannounced visits to the mother's home and no one was there. 

Zubko-Valva said she has had a busy schedule with the boys lately, but has given CPS access to them. She added that Anthony has gained six pounds since living with her and the two started their first day of school Monday. 

"The kids are really improving, your honor," Zubko-Valva told the judge. "I'm a very loving and caring mom."

Ethan Halpern, a court-appointed attorney for Anthony and Andrew, also told the judge that a social worker who had visited Anthony Friday said he was "doing well."  Halpern added that Zubko-Valva had been "very cooperative." 

Judge Frank Tantone said he didn't see a need to order a prescribed amount of CPS contact, given Zubko-Valva was not being "an obstacle" to CPS contact, drawing applause from the mother's supporters. 

Another Family Court conference is scheduled for Thursday on the CPS allegations of "severe abuse" by Valva and Pollina on the six children living at their home at the time of Thomas' death.

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